Carousel. Tradition with a Twist quilt

Tradition with a Twist was the 2016 Theme for the AQC challenge, I chose to create a “Carousel”. The tradition being a yearly fair that would attend local towns in the Uk when I was growing up, where the favourite attraction was the Carousel. The twist, well I always liked to think I was riding a real horse, so there he is, a real horse in the carousel.

I started with a watercolour concept of the four horses I wanted to recreate, then had to replicate this into material. 

creating a pattern
starting to place materials
layers upon layers

Making a pattern and placing the fabric

Making a pattern is important, I have enlarged my image onto several acetate pieces and drawn the image as detailed as possible. 

I reverse this acetate pattern and use it to trace the Vliesofix, a bonding mesh that will be used to iron the fabric on to the calico backing, by reversing the image for drawing I can put the tracing the right way up to place the fabric underneath in the right spot. I call this Trace and Place.  It allows me to place several layers of fabric in the right spot for ironing and bonding, and finally sewing. 

starting the real horse
adding detail
sewing begins

Sewing begins

As the shapes begin to take place and once layering has been completed Sewing begins. I use only straight and zig zag stitch for all my textiles. I have a very basic small Janome for this so as the quilt gets bigger it can be a challenge to sew. I have a huge stash of thread which I begin to thread paint over my fabric pieces, paying attention to direction, texture and colour. 

Sewing the horses head straight and zig zag only
Two more Carousel horses for the background
How they will look together

As sewing is completed on the horse images, I cut them out from their calico backing, making a piece that will eventually be sewn into place, making it in separate pieces means I can keep it as flat as possible with no buckling as I sew. I can also compose the best composition, they look quite stunning on a black background!

painting the carousel
getting the idea
cutting back on the background and adding the floor

Making up the background

I hand painted the background using acrylic paints mixed with a textile medium for permanence. I was going to have an evening look but decided it wasn’t bold enough, so went with the black and made it night time, this way the lights of the carousel would appear brighter.  I added white globes over the painted light so there would be a glow behind them.  I also added the 3rd and 4th horse poles. 


The shine on the real horse is a cellophane Angel Hair filament, when placed between baking paper and ironed it makes a solid web of “fabric” that can be cut to shape and sewn, without losing any of its shine or glitter. 

adding texture and light to the floor
Finished quilt. Carousel Tradition with a twist
detail shot

the floor was made from large pieces of fabric, sewn to look like wood, then blended with velvet that had been hand dyed with real bright colours, to create reflected lights. 

The finished quilt measured approximately 36 inches square. 90cm x 90cm. 

Winning quilt.

This quilt was entered into the AQC (Australian Quilt Challenge) in 2016

 It very nearly didn’t make it at all, as on the 7th January 2016, when it was halfway though construction, WA’s Largest bushfire threatened our town, having destroyed the neighbouring  town of Yarloop  and tragically, with loss of life.

I was evacuated to a nearby town and taken in by really amazing strangers who quickly became friends. They took in a woman with a half finished quilt, a few clothes, a car full of dogs and all stressed to the max! it was almost a week before we were allowed home. 

But I finished it. 

CAROUSEL was entered and chosen to exhibit with 30 others at the craft exhibition in Melbourne, and around Australia for the next year. It didn’t win anything here, but the following year I entered it into the Mancuso World of Quilts in the USA where it won “Best use of Colour: Innovative section”

I was blown away.

A major prize!